Isn’t it great when a band just go all out? If a band find a niche as particular as, say, Voodoo Soul/Alt Country Rock, they’d have to play the part. And oh man, do Papa Pilko and The Bin Rats play the part. Their live shows are a raucous melee of cowboy bats, banjos, upright basses, manic vocals and swampy guitars, and they almost seem out of place in a normal Sydney pub.
Led by the enigmatic Cyrus Pilko (aka Papa Pilko), the band are the real deal. Clad in glorious cowboy get-ups, hats, boots and all the band stomp around stage, transporting you to a different time and place. It has been a long time coming for their debut, with the band pumping out a few EPs as they sharpened their sound. What they have come up with is called Till The End of The Road, a masterfully crafted collection of blues, soul, country and rock ‘n’ roll, soaked in whiskey and caked in desert debris.
With whiskey-soaked vocals, smooths horns, twangy guitars and sultry rhythms, Papa Pilko and The Bin Rats have created the perfect soundtrack your wildest, most depraved revelries with Till The End Of The Road.
The record blasts off with On Your Own, wasting no time beating around bush. From the start this record is sultry stomp, all horns and twangy spaghetti western guitars. Pilko’s voice growls with manic glee, “I run through the shadows into the night!” sounding like a half-crazed, whiskey-drunk maniac. He belts between growls and screeches with complete disregard for the wellbeing of his vocal chords, telling tales of vagrancy and late night debauchery.
How Long is a hip-shaker with its drawn out horn section and tremolo guitars. The band chant like a pack of ravenous dogs while Pilko croons above them, well and truly their master. Shipwrecked grooves with voodoo charm and hypnotic rhythms. Organs pulse and little ahh-oo backing vocals work their into your brain and down to your hips. The horns on the record are brilliant, smooth and sexy, just the way they should be.
Cocaine Sally is a bar fight of a song. A brawl of rumbling drums and expressions of love for that sweet nose candy. “Cocaine! Woo baby I love your swing!” belts Pilko. He is a master storyteller, warping words that truly conjure a time and place. I’m not exactly sure where that place is exactly – it could be a 1920s dive bar in prohibition-era New York or a saloon in the mid-West – all I know is that it sounds like a shitload of fun.
Whiskey has a salty twang and All I See has a little bit of Doors vibe, both reflecting a bit of surfy Californian influence. The record winds down with Waiting, a frolicking cartwheel through the throws of impatience and disappointment. The gentle pluck of a banjo gives the track a sort of languid swagger before giving way to a delicate, twisting guitar solo and finally floating into a bed of alto sax bliss.
There’s rarely a dull moment on Till The End Of The Road, everything is bang on. It’s a record of clever musicianship that has been drowned in whiskey, stripped naked and set loose on a drunken rampage, and nothing could be more entertaining.